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The Race for Wireless Charging

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Wireless Charging for Underwater Vehicles

September 16th 2017

Ocean scene

Scientists at the US Space and Naval Warfare Systems Centre in San Diego have developed a way to use wireless charging technology underwater to recharge unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs).

“Unmanned and autonomous systems are used extensively for Navy missions and will continue to play a large role in future Navy and joint scenarios,” said Dr. Alex Phipps, chief of the advanced integrated circuit technology branch at SSC Pacific. “While most of these systems are able to perform their mission without human interaction, limitations in the amount of power that can be stored place a limit on the overall system autonomy.”

The researchers are now advocating for the creation of a guiding set of standards for these underwater wireless power transfer devices.

“This type of technology is going to widen the array of missions the Navy can use UUVs for,” said Dr Graham Sanborn, an engineer in Phipps’ group. “Having a UUV that can travel long distances gathering intel from ports and areas of the world our surface ships and underwater craft typically can’t go is going to increase the effectiveness of them. It’s also going to make missions safer, because service members will no longer need to accompany the machine, potentially into harm’s way. It’s a safer, more cost-effective option that we’re really excited about.”

“We are looking at the different technologies and how to integrate those into underwater vehicles,” said Phipps. “What we are looking to do is capture the common elements that can be reused for multiple vehicles and create a standard that we can give to industry so that anyone who wants to sell a vehicle and work with the Navy can conform to that standard for interoperability across the fleet.”


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